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Counting down your favorite St. Louis Tiny Desk picks: Kenny DeShields

Kenny DeShields sits at a wooden table smiling wryly
Provided by Kenny DeShields
Kenny DeShields

This week, we're counting down favorite local Tiny Desk Contest submissions ahead of a Tiny Desk STL Happy Hour concert on Thursday,  Anew, the rooftop venue above the Big Brothers and Big Sisters building in Grand Center.

More than 50 St. Louis area acts submitted to NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest this year. There were more than  6,000 entrees nationally.

After an intense voting round, we've narrowed down the top five local submissions to the contest, which we are highlighting on our website and on St. Louis on the Air this week. Earlier this week, we brought you interviews with Monkh and the People and Roland Johnson. Yesterday, we heard from Augusta Bottoms Consort.

Today, we turn our attention to Kenny DeShields.

The original story:

Mississippi-born Kenny DeShieldsgrew up hoping to make a life in song. As a kid he sang in church groups and learned to play jazz and classical piano.  His music often balances between secular and religious themes.

He’s an artist-in-residence at The Crossing church and recently returned from playing a show at the Bluebird Café in Tennessee.  DeShields calls his music "soulternative" – a bridge between “churchy sound and roots music” – and draws inspiration from a slate of artists that came to prominence in the mid ‘90s, including Erykah Badu, Ms. Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo. He hopes people are able to draw inspiration from his music either to chase down their dreams or find strength in their feelings.

The full interview:

Kenny DeShields discusses developing his sound - soulternative - in St. Louis and the story behind his Tiny Desk submission.

Tiny Desk Contest Submission: 

DeShields’ “That’s When You Love” was written after a massive fight with a friend and collaborator.  After working on music together for years the two had a disagreement that ruptured their relationship. DeShields said the lyrics came to him late one night, suggested by a higher power.  

At first he fought the impulse, but late that night, he woke up with the song’s melody running through his head. Over the past couple years he’s perfected the tune, playing it with a full band, or stripping it down for acoustic performances.  And the story has a happy ending: recently, DeShields and his friend forgave each other and renewed their friendship.  

Where you can follow the artist:

Website: http://kennydeshields.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kennydeshieldsmusic/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kennydeshields

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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